Wellington sewing initiative Re Sew remakes the suffrage petition



Over the last couple of weeks, an old boardroom inside Wellington Museum has been transformed into a fabric workshop.

Wellington sewing initiative Vinnies Re Sew embarked on a Suffrage in Stitches project to recreate the 1893 suffrage petition in kind.

The organisation is asking individuals and groups to pick up needle and thread to stitch 546 different panels, representing all  the pages of the suffrage petition. Each panel will be stitched together to create a 274 metre long textile piece, to be displayed inside the museum early next year.

Vinnies Re Sew textile recycling coordinator Caroline O'Reilly with some of the completed panels for the Suffrage in Stitches project being run in Wellington Museum.

The panels are inspired by women – whether that's women that signed the petition 125 years ago, or someone within the family that was a role model.

Re Sew textile recycling coordinator Caroline O'Reilly has been organising the workshops, as well as making her own panel, inspired by her mother, Mary O'Reilly.

O'Reilly created her own panel with green thread in honour of her mother, Mary O'Reilly.

She also wanted to chart the journeys of the women on the path to gather signatures, so she added meandering green thread to her piece of fabric.

"The petition went around the country, winding up roads, through valleys. So all these loose threads represent all the roads they travelled on."

Throughout September  people had been dropping by Wellington Museum to talk about women who inspired them and pick up a new stitching technique or two.

"People who haven't even thought they were creative have come up with some great things," O'Reilly said.

Re Sew volunteer Irihāpeti Te Aho had dropped by the workshop to start on her fifth panel: one honouring the wāhine of Ngāti Kahungunu.

"Women have got a strong voice in Māoridom that people don't know about," Te Aho said.

She joined Vinnies Re Sew a few months ago and said she'd found it a great way to help and give back to the community.

  Funded by Saint Vincent de Paul, Vinnies Re Sew works to upskill people with their sewing skills, while redirecting materials from the landfill.

The call is still out for people to take part in Suffrage in Stitches – the fabric workshops will be back at Wellington Museum in October, December and January for a week each. So far, people from as far as Queenstown and the Coromandel, as well as some people in San Francisco have put their hands up to make a panel.

The deadline to have a fabric panel in is February 27.

* For details on Suffrage in Stitches, email resew@vinnieswgtn.org.nz.

 - Stuff Reporter: Eleanor Wenman

Millie LambessComment